R’kiri Men Say VN Authorities Beat Them in Jail

Two Jarai minority members from Ratanakkiri province have ac­cused Vietnamese authorities of un­lawfully detaining them in prison and beating them to confess to help­­ing Montagnard asylum-seekers flee to Cambodia, a rights worker and villagers said Friday.

O’Yadaw district’s police chief Mao Sann confirmed that Siu Ling, 40, who disappeared on Dec 7, and his younger brother, Puoy Thom, 25, who disappeared on Dec 10, were released by Vietnamese au­thorities on Thursday afternoon and allowed to return to Cambodia.

Mao Sann said that he knew nothing of allegations that the two were beaten in jail, but planned to meet with them today.

“Vietnam arrested them and ac­cused them of illegally entering Vietnam and for being involved with Montagnard refugees,” he said by telephone. “But after they found no evidence they released them to return home.”

An O’Yadaw district villager claimed Friday that a Vietnamese border police officer in civilian clothes went to Siu Ling’s house on Dec 7 and informed him that a Jarai friend from Vietnam wanted to meet him at the border.

When Siu Ling arrived at the border he was arrested and detained. His brother, Puoy Thom, went to in­­vestigate the disappearance on Dec 10 and he too was detained and taken to prison and accused of helping Montagnards.

“This arrest is wrong,” said Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc.

“Any ar­rest of Cam­bod­ian people by a foreign authority, should be revealed to the Cam­bodian government through the embassy or au­thorities along the border.”

The two claim that they were beat­en during questioning at Gai Lai province’s Dak Keur district pri­son due to allegations they helped Montagnards, he said.

There are currently 83 Montag­nard asylum-seekers reportedly hiding in the forests in Bokeo and O’Yadaw district, he added.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has made several re­quests to the Foreign Minis­try to be allowed to travel to Rata­nak­kiri to evaluate the asylum re­quests of those reportedly in hiding.

“We cannot go without their ap­proval,” UNHCR spokeswoman Deborah Backus said. “We are still waiting to go and want to get there soon,” Backus said, adding that vulnerable women and children are re­portedly among those in hiding.

Hem Heng, Foreign Ministry press officer, said he knew nothing of the UN’s request.

 

 

 

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